If ignorance is bliss…

slow golfer

… then slow golfers should be orgasmic, because they don’t have a clue!

Slow golfers don’t believe they are slow.  They are totally oblivious to the pain they are causing others.  If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.  But I’m not laughing.

In the past two weeks I’ve experienced more than my share of 5+ hour rounds and it’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to play anymore.

Last week, I tried a course I’d never played before.  When I got to the first tee I was shocked to find out that we were almost 1/2 hour behind because the pro shop had allowed a group of 12 play in one tee time – yup, 3 groups of 4 guys booked one tee time and showed up to play.

By the 5th hole they were so drunk they were spraying balls left and right and then decided to play as two groups of six.  We walked off after 9 holes and will never play there again (and others walked off with us).  I don’t blame the golfers; I blame the golf course.  They aren’t doing themselves, their customers of this industry any favors by being “nice”.

After that experience we decided to play at a semi-private club near us, assuming it would be faster.  Wrong!  The foursome in front of us did all the things slow players are famous for.  I can’t tell you how many times one guy would walk off the tee box, to his power cart, start it up and then realize he forgot to pick up his tee.  He would stop the cart and walk back to the tee box and pick it up.

On the 5th hole, we were standing in the fairway ready to hit our approach shots after the group finally meandered off the green.  But then one of them ran back up to the green, waved at us not to hit and then proceeded to walk towards us, through a greenside bunker, pick up a ball, and walk out the other side (no rake was ever touched).

On the very next hole, they left their cart on the wrong side of the green when they went up to putt [1].  That’s when it went from slow to insane.

The last guy putting started walking slowly towards the next hole [2].  When he got to the edge of the green his buddy sitting in the cart on the opposite side called out to him, “Hey, I’m over here!”, so he walked across the entire green to the cart [3].  The moment he got there his friend said, “Never mind, you walk and I’ll just drive over.”, so slow-man-walking sauntered back over the green for the 3rd time towards the other hole [4].  And instead of driving the cart around the back of the green where there was a paved cart path, the driver decided to take a short cut through the fairway, inside the “no carts allowed” area [5].  I’m sure he broke the rules in the interest of speeding up play – HA!

This type of behavior continued until finally a “Players Assistant” came up to us on the 17th hole and apologized for the group in front of us.  He whined, “No matter how many times I told them to speed up, I couldn’t get them to move any faster.” Poor PA – suddenly he is playing “the victim”.

As we watched Knucklehead #1 putt out for a 10 on the par 3, we just shook our heads.  We then asked the PA why they were allowed to tee off at the blue tees anyway, given they were obviously 30+ handicappers.  The club used to post a sign at that tee letting players know it was for golfers with a factor of 8 or better.  We asked him to have it brought back; he just shrugged his shoulders and apologized again.

Slow play is an epidemic that is killing this game because players don’t see themselves as slow and no one tells them that they are a problem.  Marshalling is non-existant at most courses and even when PAs exist, they do very little to speed up play.  They clean up cigarette butts and return forgotten clubs, but I’ve never once seen them make any significant difference on the pace of play problem plaguing the industry.

Tough love is needed on golf courses to keep this game alive.  Starters need to enforce tee box selection based on skill and Course Managers need to publicize a Pace of Play policy that is enforced by their PAs with zero tolerance.

But don’t look to the PGA Tour for help.  Rather sad don’t you think that the Tour, which has not issued a slow-play penalty since 1995, finally decided to dole out some damage and chose 14 year-old Guan Tianlang at The Masters as their “token” slowpoke?  Meanwhile its European counterpart decided 1st year pro, Hideki Matsuyama would be a good “safe” candidate for punishment at the Open.

What about all those notoriously known offenders who have never had to add an extra stroke to their cards, including…

  • Ben Crane
  • Jonathan Byrd
  • Kevin Na
  • J.B. Holmes
  • Hunter Mahan
  • Jim Furyk
  • Charlie Wi
  • Bernhard Langer
  • Padraig Harrington

Oh yeah…they are “entitled”.  And the World #1 isn’t helping things.  Remember when Padraig was rightly put on the clock at the 2009 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday for slow play and Tiger publicly criticized the rules official for doing his job?  Sigh…

Monty suggested a “shot clock” be introduced to the game.

Here’s another idea…What if golf courses charged you by the minute?   What if you punched a clock at tee off, again at the turn and after 18?  To play you would have to put down a deposit and you get money back if you finish on time.  Finish late and you pay!  That would sure speed things up, don’t you think?

Unfortunately these ideas are just pipe dreams of mine.  Golf clubs are not taking this problem seriously enough and players are oblivious to their own tardy transgressions.

So, today a round of golf under 4 hours only happens if you are first off the tee at 6 AM.  After 8, golf becomes not “a good walk spoiled”, but a royal waste of time.


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  1. Slow play is such a problem regardless of where you are playing. Your points are valid and unfortunately spot on. Today we teed off at 2pm on a public course in Indianapolis. We immediately noticed that the twosome in front of us (also a twosome) were relative newbies. We weren’t going to push them given we were playing at a time where newbies and families typically like to come out. To our surprise the guys in front is us pulled over at the 3rd tee box and let us p,ay through noting that they were just learning the game.

    What’s breath of fresh air and a sign of hope that these guys knew the proper etiquette for allowing others to play thru. Maybe all is not yet less. We can also hop that the USGA’S While We Are Young Campaign will take root and make golf the pleasant game it should be.

  2. Nice to hear a “feel good” story about playing through to speed up play. Last week, we were offered the same deal by a 4-some ahead of us two, but because there was a couple behind us, we decided to ask the couple behind us to join us to make a 4-some.

    Sadly, the couple declined (I was rather shocked actually), and we, and they and the couple behind them all had to wait and wait and wait. It wasn’t like the couple weren’t good players – they were fine. They just didn’t want to be a 4-some with us. I did shower that morning and was playing fine ;), so I have no idea why they chose slow play over a good time 😉

    Thanks Sherry!

  3. Slow playing is an unlikely habit of some golf players who never seemed to understand the word, “golf etiquette.” Well, I’m through with them so I’d better get some tips from you guys. Just like you, I’m also struggling with my swing. I though it was because of the golf outfit I used to wear. So I find something much comfortable but still looks fashionable. But I guess the real problem is with how I swing. Thanks for the tip. I might try it too and hopefully it will work on me.

  4. When I was new in the game, I’ve been hearing a lot of my friends talking about slow playing. I got curious and find it irritating when I found out who these people are. It took them four hours playing on any course and seem so proud of their slope rating of 134 and below. Whenever I see one on the course, I’d rather sit and wait until they leave.

  5. I’m learning from you all. I had my own story to tell and just like you, I have a little respect for slow players. This makes me mad on the course but I don’t let it all out. We understand what golf etiquette is so I’d rather give some space and sometimes I just chose to leave the course.

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